Vancouver’s Gen Z buyers not sold on downtown living

Nearly half of Vancouver’s Generation Z residents say they plan to buy their first home outside of a major city – and affordability is only one reason why, according to a new report.

Sotheby’s International Real Estate and the Mustel Group published data from their latest survey looking at the aspirations and intentions of 18 to 28-year-olds living in four major cities Wednesday.

Don Kottick, president and CEO of Sotheby’s says this survey was trying to get a sense of younger people’s priorities when it came to choosing a location for their first real estate purchase.

“Obviously, the cost of living right now and affordability are definitely concerns for these individuals. But even in light of that, they have this aspiration that they definitely want to get into homeownership and they definitely want to, at some point, probably try and get into a single-family dwelling,” he says.

Very few of those surveyed plan to seek affordability outside of the province, with just three per cent saying they had plans to move somewhere else in Canada. Only 10 per cent said they planned to buy somewhere more than an hour’s drive from where they currently live.

In Vancouver, 44 per cent of those surveyed said they plan to purchase their first property in a suburb. Kottick says this was counter to the assumption that younger people are interested in being close to nightlife, entertainment and other downtown amenities. In Vancouver – as in all of the cities where respondents live – this ranked last on a list of priorities.

Of those 36 who said they do plan on staying in a major city, only 11 per cent said being in or close to the downtown core was a priority.

TOP PRIORITIES ARE SAFETY, PROMIMITY TO WORK 

Kottick says the highest priority was safety, at 54 per cent.

Next on the list was being close to work. Kottick says this also ran counter to an assumption that this generation prefers to or has become accustomed to working from home.

“Our study actually revealed that there were probably more baby boomers that want to work remote than Gen Z,” he says.

Proximity to family, grocery stores and transit rounded out the top five list of priorities.

Kottick says this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for planners, developers and employers. .

“This large demographic doesn’t necessarily want to live downtown in high density areas. They want safe neighborhoods, they want to be able to be close to work, but not necessarily downtown,” he said.

“This has significant implications for how cities and suburbs should approach planning in order to enhance the quality of life and housing for future generations.”

Despite Vancouver being the priciest market in the nation, Kottick said the city’s survey results were consistent with those from other cities and the national average.

He says the pandemic has likely played a role on shaping how Generation Z thinks about where they want to live.

“Initially everybody wanted to get out of the city they wanted to move to the suburbs, I wanted to move to rural areas, they wanted more space

“People aren’t going to forget the last two years of what we’ve been through … I do believe that residual effects of COVID will linger for quite some time.”

The report is the third in a series. The first report found 75 per cent expect to own a home in their lifetime. Eighty per cent of those said they plan to do so in the next 10 years.

The second report looked at how young people plan to finance their purchases, revealing about 40 per cent were planning on co-owning their first home. Working multiple jobs, delaying having children and cutting personal spending were some of the other ways the report found this generation plans to finance a down payment using their own savings.

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